Chennai: A 25-year-old man set himself ablaze here today allegedly over the Union and Tamil Nadu governments’ “inaction” on the Cauvery issue, police said.
Dharmalingam has sustained 90% burn injuries and he has been admitted to the Erode Government Hospital, where his condition is critical, police and doctors said.
Police said the man was said to be in a disturbed state of mind for the past couple of days.
The man’s self-immolation bid comes on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the state to formally inaugurate the country’s mega defence exhibition, Defexpo, at Thiruvidanthai.
“Cauvery water is the lifeline for the people of Tamil Nadu. Yet, Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi have not taken any action to form a Cauvery Management Board. Also, I oppose Modi’s visit to Tamil Nadu,” reads a message on the wall of his house.
He poured kerosene and set himself ablaze, police said. Doctors said the man has sustained 90% burns and his condition is critical.
The state has been witnessing protests by political parties, pro-Tamil outfits, voluntary organisations and student groups Since April 1, seeking setting up of a Cauvery Management Board.
On February 16, the Supreme Court had raised the 270 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft) share of Cauvery water for Karnataka by 14.75 tmcft and reduced Tamil Nadu’s share while compensating it by allowing extraction of 10 tmcft groundwater from the river basin.
The court had granted six weeks time to the Centre to formulate a scheme to ensure compliance with its 465-page judgment on the decades-old Cauvery dispute, which modified the CWDT award of 2007.
The six-week period ended on 29 March.
Protesters missed the PM
As the security agencies cordoned off vantage points in anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Chennai to inaugurate the defence equipment exhibition, DefExpo, opposition parties and sundry activists staged a roadshow to mark their protest. They sported black flags and black balloons, lining Anna Salai, the approach road.
Modi-haters from across the world enthusiastically shared pictures of activists holding up banners that read “Go back, Modi” on social media even as the prime minister took off in a helicopter to reach Thiruvidanthai on the outskirts of Chennai. From there, he left for IIT Madras campus.
DefExpo is aimed at showcasing India as a defence equipment manufacturing hub.
After the function at IIT-Madras, the prime minister is attending a programme at the adjoining Adyar Cancer Institute later in the day.
The opposition DMK and fringe groups had hit the streets since the morning, expressing anger against what they call the Centre’s failure to form a Cauvery Water Management Board. A number of film personalities and politicians led the protests.